Former 'The Amazing Race' contestant Blake Mycoskie announces all-reality "Reality Central" televsion network
By Andrea Sellers, 04/28/2003
Have you ever wanted to watch a reality show but there hasn't been one on at that particular time? That won't be a problem once Reality Central is launched.
Announced this weekend, Blake Mycoskie (part of The Amazing Race 2's Team Blaige) will be the chairman of the new network, with other former reality show contestants, including The Amazing Race winner Brennan Swain, also contributing money to the cause. Larry Namer, co-founder of E! Entertainment Network, is meeting with potential advertisers for the network.
So, what will Reality Central's programming include? About half of the programs will be originals, including some "Where Are They Now" segments profiling former contestants. A quarter of the programming will be international reality shows dubbed in English. The network plans to show repeats of current reality shows, if Namer can work out the syndication rights.
The new network is set to launch in January, so set your TiVo...if you subscribe to digital cable.
FULL PRESS RELEASE:
Signaling the global success and popularity of the reality television-programming genre, Reality Centralģ, a new 24/7 cable television network, will initially launch in over 3 million homes in the first quarter of 2004, with the indication that it will reach 30 million homes within 24 months. Larry Namer, co-founder of E! Entertainment Television, Inc. (formerly Movietime Channel, Inc.), and outdoor media entrepreneur and CBS reality show contestant Blake Mycoskie made the announcement today. Reality Centralís international service will launch mid 2004.
Reality Central is designed to appeal to the more than 100 million reality TV fans that are generating unprecedented audience numbers for ratings winners such as Joe Millionaire, The Bachelorette, and American Idol. The reality genre attracts more viewers that any other form of programming among adults 18-34. Not since the early days of MTV and ESPN has there been an opportunity to target such a vast and receptive audience.
Namer, Reality Centralís President and CEO, and a 32 year cable industry veteran, sees the debut of this network as a viable way for the cable and satellite industries to add real value to digital tiers. "Over the past several years the industry has invested more than $70 billion in technical upgrades in order to increase channel capacity and other advanced services. However very little has happened in terms of new, innovative, unique and unduplicated programming that has demonstrated audience appeal. Not until today has a digital channel existed that will drive consumer demand for upgrades and new services, much like MTV and CNN did for basic cable service in the early 1980ís."
Chairman Mycoskie and Namer envision Reality Central not only as a cable network but as a media platform with the built-in ability to seamlessly cross-pollinate technologies like Broadband Internet and Interactive TV to drive subscriber upgrades. Reality Central will have exclusive programming available to broadband subscribers as well as a daily news and gossip feed available as Video-on-Demand. Some programming in development is even geared specifically for users of TV storage devices like TIVO.
Reality Central will provide cable operators and satellite service providers with highly visible marketing and promotion opportunities. Presently over 25 of the most popular and recognizable reality stars are signed to exclusive promotional contracts. "At launch we will have over 100 of the top stars providing local promotion and marketing support, this stable of personalities is of tremendous value to cable operators and to advertisers," said Mycoskie.
"Reality Central will cater to the voracious appetites of television viewers who canít get enough steamy romance, adventure, exciting new musical talent and intoxicating drama that has swept into their living rooms at the speed of sound during the past year. And much like what the birth of MTV did for music and ESPN did for sports, Reality Central promises the same resonance for reality fans globally," said Namer.
Reality Centralís business infrastructure is based on Namerís original and proven E! Entertainment business model, which became a cost-effective marketing and promotional vehicle for motion picture studios to promote their upcoming films. E! Entertainment is currently valued at more than $2 billion.
The new network, which will be headquartered in Los Angeles, will promote both broadcast and cable network reality programs. The network already has commitments from several broadcast and cable networks to utilize their reality program clips, outtakes and behind the scenes footage.
Reality Central is a public relations and marketing tool that will enable the broadcast and cable networks to promote their reality television first run episodes. Additionally Reality Central facilitates the networks in repurposing and promoting their programming by providing an outlet for series reruns.
The decade old success of the contemporary reality programming genre is a very provocative concept for a 24/7 cable network, Itís something no other cable network is offering, and it could deliver added value which may convince cable subscribers to upgrade.
The Reality Central Network programming concept has the potential to provide a viable outlet to broadcast networks producing and investing in this kind of programming and seeking additional ways to reach viewers and grow their franchises.
ďReality Central has the ability to attract advertising and sponsorship in a historic manner just as Anheuser-Busch and ESPN created the template for big brands to get involved with cable networks early in their development. The advertising industry is facing many new challenges and having a relationship with Reality Central at this stage gives us an opportunity to shape this advertising vehicle to be responsive to meet our needs,Ē said Jean Pool, Executive Vice President, Director of Operations for North America Universal McCann, ďThere is almost no risk to advertisers in this business paradigm. Categories can be owned for relativity modest amounts with potentially healthy gains.Ē
Mycoskie and Namer’s Reality Central management team consists of
Karen Miller, Senior Vice President of Programming and Marketing is a 25
year entertainment industry programming and production executive who has held
top level posts at Spelling Entertainment Group, Worldvision Enterprises and
CBS Television Stations
Andrew Thau, Head of Business Development, was most recently Senior Vice
President/General Manager, Operations and Strategy for Fox Cable Channels.
Rick Portin, Reality Central’s Vice President of Production, formerly
served as executive producer for Microsoft Interactive Television and Vice
President Production at E! Entertainment.
Christy Carpenter, will serve as Head of Business Affairs, a lawyer by training,
she currently serves on the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Brooke Carey, Director of Creative Services, served in top-level positions
for Barneys New York and was most recently Vice President of Programming Development
for On the Scene Productions.
Reality Central is unique in that it is a new advertising venue, but in a proven,
accepted and in-demand genre.
Reality Central is the brainchild of Mycoskie, who after losing the million
dollar prize money in CBS’ reality hit, “Amazing Race,” convinced
the show’s winners and several other winning reality television stars from
shows like “Survivor” to part with some of their winnings and invest
the first million dollars in Reality Central.
Namer and Mycoskie have assembled a notable, board of directors and advisory
board from the media, entertainment, advertising, technology and retail industries.
Members of Reality Central’s Board of Directors include Jack R. Crosby,
Walter A. Carey, Jr. and Andrea Weiss. Crosby is currently founder and Chairman
of The Rust Group, a private investment partnership headquartered in Austin,
Texas. He was one of the founders of Prime Cable, Inc., which owned major cable
television franchises in Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Anchorage. Carey was
the Founder, President and CEO of Messner Vetere Berger Carey with $750 million
in annual billings. Euro/RSCG acquired it in 1989 and today bills over $2 billion
annually. Carey has counseled such clients as Procter & Gamble, Daimler
Chrysler, General Foods, Campbell Soup and MCI. Andrea Weiss, is former Executive
Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of The Limited, Inc.
Among the leaders on Reality Central’s Advisory Board are Dick Glover, Executive Vice President
& General Manager, Olympics ABC, Inc. and former EVP programming at ESPN;
Tom Turpin, founder and CEO of Nextad Venture Management; Michael Wex, former
President and CEO of Guthy-Renker Television (GRTV); Kristi Kaylor, Vice President
of Teen Marketing for Authentic Fitness; Neal Lenarsky, Neal Lenarsky, an agent
representing media executives working for such companies as AOL/Time Warner,
Disney, Sony, Universal, Paramount, MGM and ABC; Debra Sharon Davis, President
and CEO of Davis Communications Group, Inc.; and Brian Bowman Vice President
of Product for Match.com and former Vice President and General Manager of ABC.com